Celebrating Independence Day - a day to revel in our freedom
Every fourth of July, families across the United States gather together to celebrate Independence Day. This celebration pays tribute to a great milestone in American history, the passage of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1776, fifty-six representatives from the thirteen colonies assembled in Philadelphia to discuss gaining independence from Great Britain. Mr. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia voiced a strong assertion, stating "these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states." This was supported by John Adams who was later appointed as one of the five persons to write, and also sign, the declaration.
Thomas Jefferson was appointed to be the main writer of the first drafts of the document. The others who would later collaborate to complete the declaration were: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. On June 28th, 1776, Jefferson submitted his draft to Congress. Shortly thereafter, on July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of gaining independence from "the mother country", Great Britain.
During this time John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, "Yesterday, the greatest question was decided, whichever was debated in America, and greater perhaps, never was nor ever will be decided among men.... The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival." However, history has shown that Adam's "memorable epoch" was overshadowed by the events that took place just a few days later.
On July 3rd, Congress began editing Jefferson's draft and completed the process of amending and improving the Declaration of Independence on July 4th. Unfortunately, while this was largely celebrated in the colonies, the news of this declaration was not well received in Great Britain. Several of the 56 men, who determined the only way to break free of the tyranny was to establish independence, experienced a severe backlash from the British Army. Many of them had their homes ransacked and destroyed, families torn apart and some were even captured, tortured and killed; all because of their insatiable desire for freedom and liberty. Although these events were truly troublesome, the men involved in establishing the foundation of the country we know today pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with the firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, fortunes, and our sacred honor." And for this, we should celebrate, as our country would not be what it is today without their selfless acts.
The very first forms of Independence Day celebrations often resembled a mock funeral for King George III, whose "death" signified the end of oppression and dictatorship and the revival of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Later on, Independence Day was celebrated with ceremonies, parades, public speeches and merriment.
In those times, as well as today, the celebration of Independence Day is used by politicians as a way to promote their patriotism in the public eye. However, not only politicians celebrate this holiday; it has evolved into an accepted patriotic American tradition.
Since its inception, the Fourth of July has breathed into life several other patriotic and mid-summer traditions. Given the time of year, it is commonly celebrated outdoors, and in keeping with the great American tradition of joining celebration with food, many families gather for a barbeque. The Fourth of July fireworks display, now a widely recognized tradition, stemmed from the military tradition of firing a shot for each of the 13 colonies, which became the original United States.
Click here to read some great quotes such as:
"Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty."
~Louis D. Brandeis
"May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!"
"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave."